Science and technology outreach program to reach 1000 more youth
Science Alive, a not-for-profit science and technology education program housed at SFU, has received an extra $44,550 from one of its key sponsors, Actua, to expand outreach across B.C.
The funding boost will enable the organization to reach an estimated 1000 more youth in nine communities in Northern B.C., in addition to the 22 communities across B.C. they reached last year.
“We constantly strive to engage youth across B.C., to fulfill their full potential in life, whether or not it involves science,” says Raven Haan, director of Science Alive (in photo above, with a young participant). “We aim to make learning fun and comfortable to children, and expose them to universities as well as different careers and role models.”
Science Alive has been a member of Actua—a national science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) outreach organization—since 1995. This year, Actua’s extra direct sponsorship has allowed the program to hire two additional full-time outreach staff and deliver an anticipated eight more weeks of outreach. Science Alive depends on corporate partnerships and government funds for its operations, while various SFU Faculties participate on its governing board. SFU Faculty of Applied Sciences provides overall leadership to the Science Alive core staff.
Using marshmallows, contained fire, brightly coloured blocks and Lego, Science Alive strives to provide engaging educational opportunities in the STEM areas for youth in Grades 2–9. It is run entirely by undergraduate students. A group of 12 Science Alive core staff, along with the organization’s 80+ volunteers comprised of high school students, university instructors and community professionals, commit their time and effort to sparking children’s interest in natural and applied sciences, serving as positive and engaging role models.
Haan, a fourth-year biomedical physiology student, discovered Science Alive while walking by its office one day, and seeing an ad saying they were hiring. She completed an application and that year, she became a summer camp instructor before becoming this year’s director.
“The program provides not only education and outreach for youth, but also valuable transferable job skills and networking opportunities for undergraduate students,” she said.
Science Alive offers a wide range of programs for youth. It hosts a girls’ club, a co-ed weekend club and various community events. During the school year, participants attend on-campus workshops that simultaneously expose them to the university environment. Summer camps are available in July and August, including a Tech Camp hosted by the Faculty of Applied Sciences, where computing and engineering professors teach participants to build robots that square off in battle and race through a maze.